Rocket Lab’s new carbon fiber rocket
Rocket Lab, a US based aerospace company, is planning to launch its two-staged space vehicle this week. The aerospace company owns a subsidiary in New Zealand, where the launch will be taking place on the 21st. Rocket Lab is competing for the Google’s Lunar X Prize with Moon Express. This competition is meant to explore resources on the lunar surface. The company has also acquired contracts with NASA and has planned their delivery for this year says CEO Peter Beck. “Generally, when people come to us and want to get involved in other projects, we won’t, simple because what we’re trying to do here is so important. Who knows what the future holds, but we’re laser-focused on getting this launch vehicle to market and, hopefully, liberating the small-satellite world”, stated Beck.
Rocket Labs is calling the vehicle ‘Electron’. What makes Electron stand out is its release into the commercial satellite market, which requires dedicated and frequent satellite launches.
The two-staged Electron rocket would be carrying a maximum payload of 500lb and a nominal payload of about 330lb. The company is planning for blast-off on the 5th of May, from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. According to Space.com, on its initial launch, the Electron won’t be carrying a ‘payload’ but instead, the rocket will put its second stage booster into an elliptical orbit ranging in altitude from 200 to 311 miles – in order to test thousands of channels of instruments. Though an ambitious project, founder Peter Beck claims that is a test launch. This launch is apparently the first of three planned test launches.
Other major players within the commercial space launch market include SpaceX and Blue Origin; but unlike Rocket Lab’s Electron, these are considerably larger and production costs two folds. Its smaller size coupled with carbon composite parts would allow Rocket Lab to limit the price per launch to $4.9 million, in comparison to Falcon 9’s shattering $62 million, which would allow for Rocket Lab’s grounded visibility in the small satellite market.